Beguiled

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Reflected light,
hides depths below
Murky shadows,
slither and stir
Envious green,
lushly surrounds
Innocent face,
a sage’s gaze
The snare is set,

sirens cry out
A crooked tooth,
thwarts the trap
The idyllic path,
can lead astray

Shannonbridge, Ireland
Photo by: c.b.w. 2009

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c.b.w. 2013

Pondering Pissarro

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With the same fervor as Monet and Van Gogh, Camille Pissarro has captured my imagination with his unique style and perspective.  He is well known for making significant contributions to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism as he influenced the likes of Renoir, Cézanne, and Van Gogh. While his accomplishments are monumental, I find myself drawn to his work because of his emphasis on finding beauty in unexpected places.  His focus on simple subjects, rather than ornate is refreshing and asks the viewer to look beyond the obvious.

Self-Portrait (1903), Camille Pissarro

In the National Gallery of London, I was mesmerized by a Pissarro painting, (The Côte des Bœufs at L’Hermitage, 1877), not only due to its sheer beauty, but the epiphany it brought.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to Impressionist painters, but I never fully understood why they effected me so deeply.  Monet and Van Gogh always conjure an emotional bubble that often translates into inexplicable tears, while Renoir and Degas soothe the edges of my soul with their graceful images.

While sitting on a bench at the National Gallery and soaking in Pissarro’s brush strokes, I started to ask myself why Impressionism speaks to me with so much force. At first, I mused how Impressionist paintings seem to depict what the world looks like through the rain – my favorite kind of weather.  Whether it be a field of flowers through a water-streamed window or the streets of Paris caught in a downpour, the scene is blurred and refracted.  However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that was just a small part of the puzzle.  I strolled through the Impressionist wing of the museum, absorbing the likes of Monet, Renoir, and Seurat, until the answer slowly started to materialize.

These “blurry” paintings allow for imagination.  Mood and atmosphere are created by the artist, but the individual viewer gets to decide the story and the minute details.  Prior to Impressionism, the goal was to create as much realism as possible. The artist strived to portray everything with immaculate detail and gave the viewer little to do but look.  While amazing accomplishments, (and really quite beautiful) there is no room to wonder.  My creative spirit needs to play with the images I see and fill in the blanks.

Pissarro is often viewed as a father figure to Impressionism, so it seems fitting that one of  his paintings should lead to a new understanding of my admiration for the genre.  Below, I’ve put together a small slideshow that includes some of my favorite Pissarro paintings, including the painting that triggered my epiphany.

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Impressionists gave tradition a total make-over.  Free will became part of each painting with as much emphasis as color and subject matter.  The combination is intoxicating and explains why I lose myself so easily in the blurred edges of reality.

What kind of art speaks to you and why?

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All images courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

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c.b. 2012

My Little Garden

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For the first time in a few years, I decided to get in the spirit of Spring and start a garden.  The backyard has been neglected for far too long and I have a hankering to dig in the dirt!  Two weeks ago, I started some seeds in preparation for a vegetable garden that will eventually fill a space off the back patio and a flower garden by the front door.  So far, its been a soothing and joyful experience to watch my garden take its first breaths.  It reminds of a Chinese proverb that hasn’t lost its truth despite several thousand years:

He who plants a garden plants happiness.

With it being so warm lately, it didn’t take long for my seedlings to poke through the surface and show off their little green leaves.  I call them my “babies” and I’m so excited to watch them grow each day.  And they are growing fast!  Maybe its because I talk to them and put them under the wind chimes, (they say plants grow best with “music” and conversation!).  Of course, it’s  far more likely the beautiful weather in Arizona this time of year is the real reason.  The sun is out all day and it’s a perfect 80 degrees.

I’ll be posting pictures as my little garden grows!

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My sunflower babies reach for the sun while a little “rabbit” watches.  He better not nibble on these little guys!

Sunflower Seedlings

Little beans, cucumbers, chives, and zucchini, greet my little “squirrel.”  There will be trouble if he eats anything but that acorn!

Vegetable Seedlings

To give my seedlings a little encouragement, I potted some flower plants and arranged them around the trays.  There’s nothing like a little color liven the place up! Hibiscus and pansies are the perfect babysitters.

Red Hibiscus

Pansies are such a happy flower!

These little miracles are such wonderful reminders joy and optimism.  When a new plant pushes its way towards the sun, I can help but smile and be thankful for the wonder that is life.

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c.b. 2012

The Wisdom of Roses

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Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful thorns have roses.

– Alphonse Karr

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The first time I came across this quote, I was working in a flower shop where part of my job was to remove the thorns from all the roses.  The task literally shredded the skin on my hands, turning my fingers into a cracked, green-stained twigs.  Flower shops aren’t nearly as glamorous as everyone thinks!  Ah, I’ve digressed.

One morning, I switched the calendar page to a new month, (June, I believe), and Karr’s quote immediately caught my eye.  I never again complained about another thorn I had to remove, because I was reminded to focus on the petals.  The same is true with life in general – thorns are everywhere and can easily fill our view, but they don’t make up the whole picture.

I, for one, believe in roses.

Regent's Park, London, June 2011, c.b.w.

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c.b. 2012